When restaurants opened under Level 3 of Lockdown, I was incredibly excited to visit one of my favourite wine farm restaurants, Cassia at Nitida.
So, on a cold and rainy Cape Town evening my spirits were lifted as I set off to the hills of Durbanville. After my last memorable visit earlier in the year, this was to be a very different experience. Driving through was a breeze except for the weather. The roads were quiet and as I neared the farm it felt like I was the only person on the road.
We were greeted so warmly that it felt as if we were members of the Nitida family. The staff were delightfully attentive despite us being the only guests that evening. It was great to hear that they had had been busy with their home delivery menu earlier. The table was set in the expected pristine way I’ve always experienced at Cassia and the fire blazed to create a warm and comforting atmosphere.
Sadly, with the prohibition on alcohol sales we weren’t able to sample some of the estate’s fine wines. I settled on a Duchess Virgin G&T and I was pleasantly surprised that the taste was a rather good match to a regular G&T.
Our waiter had the largest smile on his face and when I apologised for keeping them from closing up he said, “It’s a pleasure to have you here. There’s no rush. Just enjoy your evening with us.” Such a refreshing attitude in these times. With it being a chilly winter evening, I decided to try the lightly spiced sweet potato soup topped with crunchy croutons for starters, whilst my partner decided on the smoked chicken and apricot spring roll with apple chutney. Both dishes arrived beautifully plated and my first spoonful of soup was like liquid gold. I would struggle to remember ever enjoying a bowl of humble soup more than this. It was packed with rich and creamy flavours that had me feeling deliciously content.
For mains, I decided to ask the chef to choose which dish he thought I’d most enjoy and my partner went for the fillet steak. I was presented with the Osso Buco Milanese with creamed potatoes and roasted Mediterranean vegetables. The meat was cooked to perfection and melted in my mouth. Simply put it was spectacular!
After mains we had a good chat with the chef about how the team were finding new and innovative ways to keep things going under these circumstances. Right from the top, this group of people stood by each other and the business. They have put in many hours of work in the knowledge that it is all just to keep the doors open. Everyone at Nitida cares for and values each other every step of the way. A family who love what they do and will come out on the other side of this better than ever.
It was then time to enjoy something sweet and we went for the Sticky Toffee Pudding with Crème Anglaise and the Crème brûlée. Perfect choices for a winter’s night. Comforting desserts packed with richness that left us with warm fuzzy feelings.
Reluctantly we had to say goodnight and as I left I looked back on a now empty restaurant and the few staff who had made our evening so special.
Cassia remains one of my favourite restaurants and what they are doing to survive the current restrictions is to be admired. I strongly urge every foodie to take the time and effort to drive out to Nitida to experience an evening at Cassia. Thank you to the entire Cassia team for an experience we’ll never forget and we’ll see you all soon.